Sunday, July 18, 2004

Life on Mars Confirmed?

Mars Scoop: You Heard it Here First

"On June 12, Linda Howe interviewed Professor Vittorio Formisano, who works with the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft, who said he was about to announce that there is life on Mars. Now he says he'll release this information in Paris in a few days. Ammonia has been discovered on Mars, and because it survives for only a short time in the Martian atmosphere, it must be constantly replenished. Only living microbes can do this, so the conclusion is inescapable: there is life on Mars."

Mars: the living red planet?

I'm inclined to agree. (And whatever happened to the tentative discovery of methane in Mars' atmosphere?)

I'm convinced this issue has become entrenched in the politics of discovery; as I've argued elsewhere, NASA's Mars exploration program has little or no interest in extant Martian life, as such a finding would upset Jet Propulsion Laboratory's prevailing geological agenda. (It's not an accident that neither of the MER rovers currently scuttling over the Red Planet possesses even the simplest life-detection instruments.)